The elders ask Stephen to answer the false charges against him, and Stephen tells them a story. But it really is not just a story. It is Genesis and Exodus read through Isaiah and the prophets.
It is also the worst defense speech since Plato’s apology.
The chapter brings to mind all those contemporary theologians who remind us that we are shaped by narratives. Our identity as Christians is — they tell us — embodied by the stories we carry and the stories that we inhabit. We are the people who explain what Jesus meant when he talked about no stone standing on another by talking about Abraham.
A large part of our preaching and teaching in the church is an effort to get people to understand that this is their story, too. They are living the story that began in the Bible — and ends in the Bible.
But the rub, of course, is that the way we tell the story puts us at odds with other ways of telling the story. Those men picked up rocks to murder Stephen because their narrative ran differently than Stephen’s.
Stories are powerful and dangerous things. We do not tell them lightly if we are wise.